Watervliet City Commission takes action for employee recognition holiday event; newly appointed city Treasurer resigns
By Annette Christie
The Watervliet City Commission took steps for their employees at their Tuesday, October 25 meeting. Commissioner Deah Muth had employee recognition placed on the agenda for discussion at the meeting. Muth recommended that the City Commission host an employee recognition event near the holiday season. To keep from spending taxpayer money on the event, Commissioners will pay for their own meals and donate a couple meeting stipends to pay for the event. The event is scheduled for December 3 at 7:00 p.m. and will be held at the Board of Trade. Commissioners also approved the hiring of a full time employee in the Public Works Department. The Personnel Committee made the recommendation to hire Jeffrey T. Allen as a regular full time employee. Allen has worked for three summers previously and is currently a part time employee. A brief discussion was held about nepotism as Allen’s father also works in Public Works. City Manager Bill Hodge said that the Public Works Superintendent Mark Bolin recommended it and he concurred. Commissioner Melanie Marvin commented that she is familiar with the younger Allen’s work ethic and described him as a model employee. The vote to hire Allen was unanimous. While the Personnel Committee is working with Police Chief Tim Sutherland on his contract, the City Commission voted to extend it until at least the next meeting where it could possibly be voted on. The next regular City Commission meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 15 due to the upcoming general election. The City Commission did vote to purchase a new police vehicle. Sutherland said that they currently have a fleet of three vehicles, one of which continuously has caused some trouble and cost excessively to repair. Through the State of Michigan bidding program, the city can purchase a 2017 Ford Interceptor in the amount of $30,456. To outfit it fully will cost an additional approximately $5,110. Hodge said that while they did not particularly budget for a new vehicle, there was funding available that could be moved to where it was needed. The plan will be to sell the other vehicle outright. With regret, the City Commission accepted the resignation of Prue Kiekenapp, the city’s treasurer. The added communication of her resignation letter was read by Commissioner Dan Hummel. Hummel commented that this matter deserves further discussion. Commissioner Barb Schofield, also the Personnel Committee Chairperson, said that she spoke to Kiekenapp and that part of the reasoning was the lack of having someone on site with treasurer experience for questions and other personal items that Schofield said she would not discuss. Kiekenapp was recently appointed by Mayor Brinker. Brinker said he would have a conversation with her about the letter. Hodge reported to the City Commission that he has had discussions with Cindy LaGrow of LaGrow Consulting regarding some outstanding issues from when the company was contracted as the City Manager. The City Commission authorized a final payment to LaGrow Consulting but held that payment until some items were resolved. Hodge said he expects to have everything resolved in the next week or so. In other business, Commissioner Dan Hummel asked that consideration be given to the idea of the City of Watervliet taking care of the tree lawns along W. St. Joseph Ave. from the city limits to the stop light. Hummel explained his concept of having the City maintain the tree lawns to provide a consistent, clean look for this “genuine portal to our city”. Hummel said that the tree lawn is so wide there and they have had chronic problems of residents not maintaining it as it should be. He indicated that the City was missing an opportunity to make this as attractive as it could be. Muth commented that the new ordinance enforcement would take care of the chronic problem of people not maintaining their property like they should. Marvin added that she was not in favor of spending tax payer money to mow people’s lawn because they would not. Brinker said the City Commission could consider the topic with Hummel adding that they will have all winter before it is a problem again. The next City Commission meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m. due to the upcoming general election.
WATERVLIET POST OFFICE… supports Breast Cancer awareness during the month of October. Postal workers pictured in clothing supporting the cause are (from the left) Rural Carriers Holly Ellison, Carla Baldwin, and Karen Ham-ilton, Postmaster Wendy Fisher, Clerk Joni Fester, RCA Tiffany Hanners, and Rural Carrier Marie Staggs. (TCR photo by Amy Loshbough)
Power of Pink at the Watervliet Post Office
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It began Saturday, October 1, and continues through Monday, October 31. The Watervliet Post Office has their pink on for a “Pink at the Post Office” event to promote the sale of the Breast Cancer semipostal stamp. The Watervliet Post Office is one of several hundred post offices in the Greater Michigan District (which covers post offices with zip code areas beginning with prefixes 486–491 and 493-499) participating in this event. Postmaster Wendy Fisher says, “Our Retail Associates are wearing pink in support of this important subject.” “Few things reach as many Americans each day as the U.S. Mail, so the Breast Cancer semipostal postage stamp provides an opportunity to raise money and awareness in support of important social issues,” Fisher further states. The Breast Cancer Research stamp was the first semipostal stamp in U.S. history, when it was issued on July 29, 1998 at the White House. As of August 2016, over 1 billion stamps have been sold raising over $82.9 million for breast cancer research. By law, 70 percent of the net amount raised is given to the National Institutes of Health and 30 percent is given to the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense. Visit the Watervliet Post Office and purchase pink (the Breast Cancer semipostal stamps, that is) and be a part of the continued fight for a worthy cause.
Lakeland Health breaks ground on $160 million medical pavilion expansion
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday, October 19 for the $160 million medical facility expansion at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph, located at 1234 Napier Avenue. A total of 260,000 square feet will be added to the hospital with an additional 70,000 square feet of renovation. Construction on the project will begin in March of 2017 with scheduled completion of the new pavilion in 2019 and completion of the renovations in 2020. “This project is the culmination of our plan to expand our flagship facility, which has included the new bed tower, refurbishing many areas of the hospital, the parking garage, and now this medical and surgical addition,” said Dan Hopp, Chair, Lakeland Health Board of Directors. “I’d like to acknowledge and thank the many hospital and community leaders who have served Lakeland throughout the past generations. Their wise decisions and stewardship have ensured the launch of such an ambitious project.” “I am pleased to officially break ground on our latest building project which will drastically change the way in which we provide quality, compassionate health care to our community,” said Loren B. Hamel, MD, President and CEO, Lakeland Health. “We’re building for the future, not only for our friends and neighbors who we serve, but also for the next generation of clinicians, the world-class talent that we want to attract.” The project will be led by the architectural firm, SmithGroup JJR out of Chicago. Plans for the pavilion include five floors featuring new state-of-the-art medical and surgical suites, a short stay unit, imaging centers, an intensive care unit, and education and community rooms. A new main entrance to the facility will focus on visitor amenities including areas designated for healthy living and additional outreach programs. “As the design process continues to unfolded, our team has quickly discovered the visionary aspirations of the leadership team at Lakeland Health, and together we will embrace the opportunity to truly transform the future of this organization,” said Coty Sandberg, Lead Architectural Designer, SmithGroup JJR. “Our team is honored to be part of this project and eager to bring to fruition a facility worthy of the community Lakeland serves.” For more information and the latest updates on the project, visit www.lakelandhealth.org/pavilion.
Van Buren County United Way Stuff the Bus, Saturday, Nov. 5
It is almost time for United Way’s annual Stuff the Bus County-wide Food Pantry Mega-Drive. Stuff the Bus is hosted by United Way in cooperation with scout troops, grocery stores and local school transportation providers. Food and personal care items will be accepted Saturday, November 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The goal of Stuff the Bus is to collect supplies for local food pantries to stock them up before the holiday season when winter fuel bills are high, and when children are on break from school and cannot get free/reduced lunches and/or breakfasts. Each pantry has submitted a Wish List of its most-needed items. Local Girl Scout troops and other service groups will be on-hand to pass out Wish Lists and collect donations. They will also shop on behalf of individuals who prefer to make a monetary donation or for whom shopping is difficult. “United Way has worked very hard to coordinate all the aspects of Stuff the Bus,” said Vera E. Tanier-Sebree, Executive Director of Van Buren County United Way. “We are so pleased with the support we’re receiving. The community has been quite generous over the years and we’re very grateful for that.” Donations may be made at any of the following Stuff the Bus sites: Harding’s Friendly Market, Bangor & Hartford; Wagoner’s, Bloomingdale, Lawton & Mattawan; Dollar General, Covert; Village Market, Decatur, Gobles & South Haven; and Family Fare, Paw Paw. For further information, contact Van Buren County United Way, 269-657-2410.